The blog of Manhattan!

Through-the-looking-glass tax cuts

There’s an absolutely masterful piece at The New Republic by senior editor Jonathan Chait, about the new conservative campaign to demonize those so poor that they don’t pay taxes. It leads by describing a recent Wall Street Journal article:

To wit, a recent lead editorial titled “THE NON-TAXPAYING CLASS.” A reader unfamiliar with the Journal’s editorial positions might read this headline and assume it refers to ultra-wealthy tax dodgers. But no — the Journal, of course, approves of such behavior. The non-taxpayers it denounces are those who earn too little to pay income taxes: “[A]lmost 13 percent of all workers,” the editorial fumes, “have no tax liability. … Who are these lucky duckies?” In typical Journal fashion, the editorial is premised upon a giant factual inaccuracy — it completely ignores sales and excise taxes, which consume a huge share of the working poor’s income. But what makes the editorial truly exceptional is the reasoning underlying it. The Journal complains that low taxes on the poor are “undermining the political consensus for cutting taxes at all.” For instance, the editorial considers the example of a worker who earns $12,000 per year, and, after noting bitterly that he pays less than 4 percent in income taxes, concludes, “It ain’t peanuts, but not enough to get his or her blood boiling with tax rage.” In other words, the Journal wants to raise taxes on the working poor so that they will have more “tax rage” and thus vote for Republicans. Once in office, of course, those Republicans would proceed to cut taxes for the well-off. (Indeed, according to the Journal’s logic, they couldn’t cut taxes on the poor because that would just lead them to stop voting Republican.)

The piece gets even better and funnier after that. Go read it; you have to register (for free), but I swear to god it’s worth the hassle merely for this one superb piece.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Search This Site


I'm Clive Thompson, the author of Smarter Than You Think: How Technology is Changing Our Minds for the Better (Penguin Press). You can order the book now at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Powells, Indiebound, or through your local bookstore! I'm also a contributing writer for the New York Times Magazine and a columnist for Wired magazine. Email is here or ping me via the antiquated form of AOL IM (pomeranian99).

More of Me


Recent Comments

Collision Detection: A Blog by Clive Thompson